Bradley hails teenagers as Hoops look to the future
Shamrock Rovers 5 Bray Wanderers 0
Though set to lose current star man Graham Burke, manager Stephen Bradley offered a vision of the future at Shamrock Rovers in Saturday's facile win over Bray.
Burke, a transfer target for Preston, scored twice on his return to a Hoops shirt following international duty as Bray played virtually the whole match with only 10 men.
Bradley gave a debut to 16-year-old goalkeeper Gavin Bazunu, while Brandon Kavanagh, 17, made his first league start.
Officially managed by Martin Russell for the first time, Bray had defender Conor Kenna sent off for handling Kavanagh's shot on the line after just three minutes.
Burke swept home the penalty and Sam Bone cracked in a half-volley on 53 minutes to double Rovers' lead.
Latching on to Kavanagh's pass, Burke added their third goal on 75 minutes before Dan Carr and substitute David McAllister completed the rout.
"I found out about an hour and a half before kick-off," beamed Bazunu, Dublin-born of a Nigerian father and Irish mother, of his surprise debut.
"I'm really thrilled. I was nervous but excited as well and very happy to get the chance. I just needed to take it and I'm very happy," added the Firhouse youngster who has five Ireland U-16 caps.
"When I was younger I looked up to Edwin van der Sar - I watched him a lot. And at the moment I am really fond of Gianluigi Donnarumma - he's a young 'keeper at AC Milan. He was 16 as well when he made his debut."
"He's been excellent," said Bradley of Bazunu. "My worry was if you put him in and you hurt his development because he's so young. That was my only worry because he's been so good, physically, mentally. He's ready to play.
"I was just trying to hold him back for as long as possible. But I guess there are days when you just have to let him go and prove how good he is."
It was also a match to remember for left-footed midfielder Kavanagh, who received a standing ovation when subbed late on.
Bradley had no update on Burke's potential move. "There is no point in denying there is interest, but until someone puts something on the table that's right for everyone…
"Graham has 18 months on his contract and we're happy. It has to be fair for everyone."
Shamrock Rovers - Bazunu; Boyle, O'Brien, Grace, S Kavanagh; B Kavanagh (Boyd 78), G Bolger (McAllister 79), Bone (A Bolger, 73), Coustrain; Burke; Carr.
Bray Wanderers - Moran; Gibbons, Kenna, Heaney, Lynch; O'Conor, McKenna; D Kelly, McCabe (Gorman, 51), Galvin; Coughlan (Pender, 71).
Ref - A Buttimer (Cork).